Hosting a paint party at the Library

Paint n’ Sip

It was never about the alcohol.  It’s not about creating a masterpiece. The ladies just want to have fun and socialize.

I did it again.  I was at a librarian meeting and someone said that paint and sip events were very popular.  “Huh, I teach kids craft classes, I can paint a simple painting, so therefore, I can teach a paint class for adults.” This in spite of the fact I’d never even been to a paint and sip, had no clue what supplies I needed or had any confidence in my teaching abilities.

“It’s like I keep jumping off cliffs hoping I have a parachute somewhere,” I said to a fellow library director.
“Yeah, and I’m standing at the edge of the cliff, watching you go and getting nowhere myself,” she said.

So.  To host a paint party, you need a few things.  Limit the number of participants.  I think 12 would be the maximum and 8 would be ideal.

Food– this turned out to be not a major part of the event, they were all focused on the painting.  But I bought a gallon of apple cider, put it in a crock pot with mulling spices, and bought donut holes and pecan tarts.  Done.

Easels- very important.  I recommend the ones I borrowed from another library, these small metal table top easels can fold up and were very sturdy.

Paint and brushes-  Get good student acrylics, that come in tubes (not the cheap, watery stuff in bottles). Buy more than you think you need, especially of primary colors. When I say student acrylics, I mean the paints that colleges buy, not preschools, so no washable tempera.  Cheap brushes also cause issues in that they shed hairs more than my dog.  The exception to the cheap brushes rule is sponge brushes, which allow you to make smooth strokes.  You don’t need 20 different sizes and shapes, you need 3 at the most- one large one for broad coverage, one fine point for detail and one mid-sized fan for effects.  Also, have lots of rags or paper towels handy.  I used foam plates as palettes.

Before the party, make a demo of the design you are going to teach.  Break it down into steps, first layer, second layer, details.  There are instructions out there online, I thought I didn’t need to do that.  I should have.  Instead, I took a picture and copied it, then thought about what I did to make it.  Keep the design simple, you don’t want people to feel rushed or overwhelmed.

We decided afterward it would have been nice to have soft music playing, “or maybe ocean sounds!”

Everyone had a good time, and we kept it a judgement free zone as much as we could (the hardest was about our own work).

Next time I think I’ll have someone else do it, because it is one thing to be able to do something, and another to teach it well.  If after reading this, you still want to do it at your library yourself, take my advice.  Attend a professionally run event to see what they do.  Prepare ahead with a simple design broken down into simple steps.  We had a spectrum from enthusiastic artists to those who had never mixed colors since elementary school.  Give out aprons as door prizes (printed with your logo would be awesome).  Take time to talk with your artists and get them relaxed, willing to be brave and throw paint on a canvas even though it won’t be “perfect.”  You know, like jumping off a cliff.

What’s next?  Oh yeah, I agreed to teach adults how to make bath bombs.  Well, I’ve made them with kids.  Maybe the secret is pretending my adult students are kids.  They just want to have fun.



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